Cerebral palsy has affected the way people treat me. Kids at school who don’t know me won’t talk to me or they might give me looks. I remember on the first day of school one year one of my friends and I had to go to the side at gym because of our disabilities while everyone else played. What made me upset is that the teacher didn’t even glance at us. The way people treat me gets me upset sometimes, but I have to remember that people are just noticing that I am different. I try to introduce myself to new people because it lets them know I am a nice person. Once people understand they don’t have to be afraid, they are friendly.
Elementary schools was hard
Well, in elementary school it was hard because eight year olds really don’t understand that I’m the same as they are. They just look at me as the girl on the soccer team who could not follow the ball. Or the girl who is really quiet or has a teacher bringing her everywhere. Plus, I was probably too young to explain it to them. So now it hasn’t really affected me that much.
I’ve had to adapt, but I don’t know it any other way
I have to think about what classes I’m taking. I just got my schedule yesterday, I found out I take two PE periods and I have to factor in, ok are any of my friends going to be in that class? Because I need to figure out whether they can tie my shoes for me or not. And I also need to factor that in with the teachers too. Yeah, I’ve had to adapt, but I don’t know it any other way. So it’s really hard to say “Oh, well if I lived normally, I would have it this way.”
Sometimes I just want to be normal
I didn’t really think about the adjustments I make for my CP until my sister went into 7th grade and just breezed through it. And like, wait a second when I went into 7th, I needed to stop every teacher and say, “I have cerebral palsy. Please don’t make a scene. Yes, I do have PT and OT at school. Yes, I do have an IEP.”
It’s really tough at school because I’m a good student. I like to get my work done and get it done quickly and efficiently and I get really irritated when my work is delayed because well, my friends call me a future workaholic. That’s probably why I get so stressed out because I got so much stuff to do and then on top of that every Friday you have OT. I’m like, “Oh fun.” And that lands in a different period every Friday. In fifth grade it was ok because in fifth grade, I didn’t care, but it’s like not in tenth grade. Because I have to go to the teachers. I have to retake the test; I have to retake the lesson. It just makes my day a little bit weirder. Oh and the worst is that they have to take me out of school for OT, which I was really mad about because I am like, why do I have to be taken out of school for OT? It just didn’t make any sense to me. Yeah, sometimes I just, you know, want to be normal.
In elementary school gym class, balance beam was like a total nightmare for me. But of course my gym teacher was totally oblivious. He was one of those people who thought that everybody should be treated equally. Nobody should wear glasses because that would be a disadvantage to the people without glasses. That was his mind set. Well, the kids were ok with it, but it was still embarrassing because I always had to go up against this totally athletic kid, who is now the fastest runner in Massachusetts. So I’ve got competition there. And it’s like, ok, my turn. And yes, it is kind of embarrassing when I play soccer with people I don’t really know and they see that I kind of bob my head a little bit so they look at me like, is she having a seizure?
My self-esteem dropped
In elementary school, I didn’t handle the reactions from my peers very well. I guess my self-esteem might’ve dropped a bit because that kind of thing was really affirming things that I didn’t want to believe about myself. It’s kind of like when you hear something from someone for so long, you begin to believe it. That’s kind of what was happening to me, but then I gradually realized that even though I can’t jump or skip or climb up ladders, there are plenty of other things that my peers are doing that I could enjoy watching them do. It didn’t have to be painful for me to enjoy watching them doing the things that they loved to do, and so recently I haven’t really noticed teasing or whispering behind my back outright.
Cerebral palsy affected me in school. I had to go through physical and occupational therapy. I went through physical therapy for improving my motor skills with my hands, arms, and legs. There was only one time back in sixth grade that I had to miss one of the two gym classes every week, because I had to go to my physical therapy session during that time. I felt bad that I was not able to participate in activities with my classmates at gym, but I know going to physical therapy what was important.
Special education vs. mainstream classes
In school, I had extra activities like going to occupational and physical therapy. When I was a young kid, I had special shoe mold foot inserts in my shoe to help with my walking. I think biggest adjustment in school was the change from being in mainstream classes to special education classes and vice versa in elementary, high school, and in college. The curriculums are different in mainstream and special ed classes. Special educational classes to me are different from the mainstream, because of small class size, receiving more attention from the teacher, and better understanding on the material.